Teachers leaving jobs at record rate across country, including Jacksonville area

Public educators across the country are quitting their jobs at the highest rate since 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The Wall Street Journal reported 1 million teachers left their jobs in a 8-month time span during 2018.

“We’re dealing with a culture that tells everybody, 'Eh do what you have to do to get by,'” local teacher Leisha Cowart said.

Cowart said money is not the only issue teachers face; rather it's a culture problem.

“Teachers are expected to do more than just teach,” Cowart said. “We have kids coming to us with all sorts of backgrounds with who knows what sort of issues they deal with on a daily basis, and we’re supposed to know and meet the emotional needs, sometimes the social needs and the educational needs. That is a massive burden.”

Action News Jax reported a $62 million shortfall in DCPS's budget in May. As a result, the district cut back on teacher positions, and many were surplussed. Cowart was one of them.

She is now employed with the St. Johns County School District as a teacher. She said she would never consider quitting, but the job can get overwhelming. She said she can understand why other teachers feel burned out.

“I’ve had students take their own lives, I’ve had students be the victim of murder, I’ve had students with violent background. Then you have to run the gamut and you take those home,” Cowart said.

She said an immediate fix can come from more communication from administration.

“The biggest thing that the state, the district, people can do for teachers is to value them, value their opinions,” Cowart said.

Action News Jax contacted Duval, St. Johns and Clay County school districts to learn if any of their teachers have quit in the last year. Because of the holiday break, we are waiting to hear back.

As a recruiting initiative, DCPS offers a program to help candidates earn a certification for a potential elementary school position called “Ready, Set, Teach.”

A spokesperson also said they just launched a new initiative called S.T.A.R.T. This is for current DCPS employees with an associate's degree and a desire to teach. The program offers an opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree in education at a lowcost.